A Long Home Water Birth (But Still Awesome)
Can I tell you a secret? I love long birth stories as much as the short ones. For one, I think many women experience a "long" first birth and yet most want or think a short birth is superior. It isn't always, each have their challenges. But a happy natural birth like this one that is still long and yet amazing- well, it shows that it CAN be done and done joyfully.
Birth is beautiful!
Ellie’s Long Home Water Birth
I woke up at about 2:30AM on Sunday May 30th, I was three days from my due date, and was lying in bed wondering if the cramping I was feeling was from the spicy food I had eaten the night before or if they were real contractions. I decided to sit up for some reason, and when I did…there was a gush! I ran to the bathroom, and then realized I had soaked my underwear, but not much else was coming out.
I yelled to my husband that I thought my water broke and texted the same thing to Jen, one of the midwives. She asked if it was clear (it was pink tinted), and she said that was fine, and to go back to sleep and call her when I started to get regular contractions. Nick went back to sleep, and I sure tried! I put on my birthing day affirmations from my Hypnobabies class and tried to fall asleep. It took a while, but I did fall back asleep for an hour or two. I went to the bathroom at about 4:15 and had a bloody show.
When we woke up around 8 or so, I texted my mom and she decided to wait awhile to come. Nick and I timed some of the contractions, which were becoming pretty painful. I could breathe through them and be fine, though. They were coming every 2 to 5 minutes and were about a minute long.
We called Jen, and decided that she would come check me, if I was just a couple centimeters, we had some time, if I was 5 or more centimeters, then they would cancel their appointments for the day and come stay with me. Nick’s sister was the first to get to the house, and she took the dogs for us, thank goodness. Then I texted my two friends that I wanted to be there for the birth to let them know I was in labor. I told them I would let them know when to come….but they rushed on over anyway.
Around 1PM Rebecca, the other midwife, came to check me and I was only about 1 centimeter, and my cervix was still pretty thick. I was a little sad, but tried not to let it get to me. I did lots of walking around the house, rocking on the birth ball, and just hanging out around the house with my family and friends. We even took a walked around the neighborhood. The contractions stayed about the same most of the day.
At one point during the afternoon, I went upstairs to try and do some hypnosis and take a nap while the family cooked out hot dogs and hamburgers for Ellie’s “Birthday dinner”. At this point the contractions were getting a little more intense, and I realized that the hypnosis tracks were not really helping the pain at all. After my nap I went downstairs and ate. It was really nice to be able to eat three meals while in labor! After dinner we went for another walk but I didn’t make it far because the contractions were really hurting and becoming longer.
Then everyone was sitting around watching a movie, while I sat on the birth ball listening to the birthing day affirmations trying to get through contractions that were becoming worse by the minute. They hurt really badly in my lower back, and all through my tummy. Then Jen showed up again to check me.
We went upstairs, and as she was checking me, she told me that I was still at one…maybe one and a half. As she was checking me and telling me this, I got another contraction and started bawling my eyes out. It hurt so bad, I was sad that I hadn’t progressed at all that day, and I was starting to get scared I wouldn’t be able to have her at home like I wanted.
Jen wanted me to sleep and try again in the morning. She suggested I either take Benadryl or some red wine to calm the contractions and help me sleep. Well, we didn’t have any red wine, and it was Sunday and no one sells alcohol here on Sundays. Plus the thought of drinking wine made me want to throw up. So, I took some Benadryl and she drew me a bath. Neither thing helped! The contractions hurt sooo bad and didn’t let up at all.
Once everyone heard that I haven’t progressed, they all went home, except my mom, who slept in our guest bedroom. Nick went to sleep and I tried my darndest to do the same. I was able to drift off a little between contractions, but other than that, I was up all night trying to deal with the contractions alone. The way I ended up coping with the contractions was to sit up in bed with my legs crossed and rock forwards and backwards.
I ended up doing this through almost all the rest of my contractions that weren’t in the water. At one point during the night, I called Jen and told her I didn’t think I could do it. She said, well, you could go to the hospital, but they would probably just give you an epidural and Pitocin. I really didn’t want that…I suppose I thought she would have some magical solution for me, but she didn’t. I just kept doing what I was doing, and eventually morning came.
Once Nick woke up, he started helping me. From then on he rubbed my lower back and talked me through each contraction. I don’t know when, but at some point the Rebecca and her apprentice Kate came, and this time they stayed. She checked me, this time I was at 2 cm, and was very soft. So I did have some progress, but not as much as I would have liked.
Nick and I just kept doing what we were doing. I pretty much lost track of time and just tried to make it through each contraction. I finally got in the birth pool and it felt sooooo good. It didn’t take the pain away, but it made it a little more bearable. We listened to the Hypnobabies relaxing music all day long, but I didn’t really try the actual hypnosis much since the day before. Nick was almost always in the tub with me, I could not have made it without him. It also felt really good when he would put the hot water hose almost directly on my lower back.
Throughout the day, they were feeding me crackers and applesauce and making me drink water. I was grateful, because I knew I should be eating and drinking some, but I couldn’t get it myself. I couldn’t even think about it! Every now and then Nick would take a break, and either Rebecca or Kate would do what he had been doing. I found out later that they said that my contractions spaced out a lot whenever he left. So it turns out we were a good team!
I remember having to go the bathroom, but not ever wanting to go because it hurt soooo much worse when I was on the toilet. Rebecca said that the toilet was a great place to labor, but I just couldn’t do it, partly because no one could rub my back! At some point they checked me again, and I was 5 cm! Woohoo! All that work really was doing something.
Some of my contractions just seemed to go on forever. I remember saying, “Why won’t it stop? This one is not stopping!” Apparently I was pretty loud…I remember moaning and such, but mom said she could hear me loud and clear from downstairs! Oh, and all day on Monday it was just Mom, MIL, and FIL, and they stayed downstairs for the most part. We decided to call my friends to come when it got closer to time.
So...earlier that day Rebecca told me a little trick to try and help get me dilated, she said that at the end of contractions, I could give a little push. Not like I was trying to push the baby out, but just a little push. At that point I didn’t want to, but as evening was approaching, I started doing it. Then around 7:30 or 8PM, those little pushes started turning into real pushing. I decided I needed to get back into the birth pool, so they went to work getting it nice and hot.
Jen finally arrived right after I got in. She checked me, and I was about 9cm! I was so happy (in between contractions….lol). They called my two friends that I wanted to be at the birth, and they headed over and waited downstairs until the midwives called them up. I started really pushing, and it hurt so badly! Nick and I were both in the pool, and I pushed when I felt like it.
I tried my best to breathe through each contractions/push. I pretty much yelled through each one as well! I pushed for two hours. I changed positions in the water many times. I squatted, did hands and knees, was on my back with Nick supporting me. Jen and Rebecca actually did some hip compressions at one point. When she finally started crowning, I was on my hands and knees, and I was grabbing onto Nick for support. At one point I bobbed my face in the water by accident…ew!
Jen was massaging me to help me stretch…I pulled away from her thinking she was hurting me, because it was stinging really bad, but she said, “It’s not me hurting you, it is you stretching out!” I said, “Oops, sorry.” She said, “Don’t apologize; I have actually been hit before…” Well, I finally pushed her head out, and then with the next push, out came the rest of her!
Nick jokes about how she came shooting out and swam around the pool! Everything happened so fast, she came out, and next thing I know Jen had pushed her up under me, and I had to turn in the water quickly, sit up, then I took her and pulled her up. She was slippery! I got her above the water, and her little head flopped back down, and that scared me.
I finally got a good grip on her and was just saying, “My baby! My baby!” I couldn’t believe she was finally out! She was born at 9:58PM, two hours before her due date. She was purple at first, but it didn’t take any time for her to pink up. Her Apgar scores were 9 at one minute and 10 at five minutes. After couple of minutes they had me get out of the pool and onto the bed. There I just held my little Ellie and nursed her. Then Nick cut her cord and took off with her to show FIL.
After about 30 minutes I gave a little push and delivered the placenta. It wasn’t bad at all. Jen examined me and I had two small tears, and they didn’t need stitches. Nick came back with Ellie and we had a few minutes alone with her while the midwives cleaned up a bit and made a healing herbal bath with beautiful flowers for me and Ellie. It was wonderful and made for some great pictures!
After the bath Jen weighed and examined Ellie. She was 6lb 4oz and 20 and 3/4in long. She was long and skinny. It ended up the total length of labor was 43 hours! Wow…They had me eat some eggs and made me drink juice with Emergen-c in it so that I would be able to keep my energy up. They kept telling me I was going to be exhausted, but I guess I was running on adrenaline, because I think I stayed up the whole night just staring at her.
I also felt well the next day, until sometime in the afternoon I finally took a nap, and when I woke up I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The two small tears ended up hurting pretty bad, and it makes me hope I never get major tears! I was also very sore for several weeks, but other than that, I was fine. Giving birth to Ellie at home was the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done, but I don’t regret it for one minute! I would do it all over again.